I think my job is especially fun, particularly on assignments like this. But then I met folks who actually make a living out of playing.
"It really is a fun thing," says Karsten Kristenson, who gets paid to build stuff out of Lego bricks. "Think about it. You work with kids. You work with toys. I can't beat it. That's the best job you can ever get."
"Anybody that comes and says, 'Can you build a model?' we say, 'Oh, of course we can.' Because we have lots of imagination and lots of Lego bricks."
He's not kidding. There's bin after bin of Legos in Enfield, Conn. — all for making cool things that end up in stores like Toys-R-Us and FAO Schwarz. And there's always new parts coming their way.
New parts are necessary when designs get more complicated. They used to be graphed out on paper first, but now Lego modeling is high-tech. "We do a lot of stuff on the computer now," says David Gold, a designer. "We have some 3D programs where we'll design in 3 dimensions."
Those designs are then turned into brick, with a special program called "The Leggolizer."
But putting the Legos together isn't all fun and games.
"You kind of have to toughen up your fingers," says Arlene, a worker.
But that's about it for job hazards.
"When you think about it, how hard can it really be?" says Kristenson. "You know...the biggest problem you have is maybe you ran out of yellow bricks. You know, that's a horrible day."
Lego started in Denmark in 1932. Francie Berger was the first Lego model builder in this country. Getting the job was no easy task.
"I think they had finally gotten tired of listening to me on the phone," says Berger. "Figured if they saw me in person, maybe they could make me go away. [They] agreed to see me in person, and they never got rid of me."
That was 19 years ago. Today, to get the job, you have to show you're well-rounded.
The ultimate test for anybody who wants to be interviewed by Lego is to make a ball out of square bricks. And I found out it was harder than it looks.
Needless to say, I'm not going to be building a Mark Twain any time soon.
But here is sneak peek at some of fun and innovative toys that kids will be clamoring for later this year.
Clickits: LEGO introduces Clickits -- New fashion design kits that encourages girl ages 6-11 to piece together jewelry, room decor, picture frames and fashion accessories. Not only is this LEGO's debut into the arts and crafts arena, but marks a new direction for them -- expanding into the girls' market. Prices for the kits range from $3.99 to $29.99. For more information, visit www.LEGO.com.
Spy Toys by Wild Plant: Spy Stealth Communicators are the first lens-mounted, text-based communicators. Each package comes with two goggles with heads-up display and two keyboard transmitter/receivers. By wearing the goggles and a wrist-mounted keypad you can type a message and transmit it to another equally equipped spy, where it will read out an LCD digital display on his goggles. For ages 6 and up. Price is $29.99. Available nationwide in fall 2003. For more information on the Spy Gear product line, visit www.spygear.net.
Secret Camera Journal: Disguised as a book, it allows you to secretly take and store pictures. Open the book, look through the camera viewer and snap! You can display your photos in the camera book and record information with the enclosed pen. All your top-secret photos and notes can be locked inside. Recommended for ages 6 and up. Price is $14.99. Availability is nationwide in Fall 2003. For more information on the Undercover Girl product line, visit www.undercovergirl.net.
Electronic Hulk Hands by Toy Biz: Along with the highly anticipated movie (in theaters June 2003) based on the Marvel hero, there will be an extensive toy line, with an item called Hulk Hands leading the way. Kids will feel the power of their favorite green hero when they put on these foam-padded, oversized, green gloves. As kids swing their Hulk hands, the green fists play electronic punching sounds. Available April 2003 for the price of $19.99.
A.R.M: It's the next generation in water toys from the makers of Etch-A-Sketch. This one-arm ergonomically designed water soaker has a "flex and flood" feature with a water source pack that fits like a backpack. Adjusts to fit any size. Each shot of water can last up to 30 seconds from as far away as 30 feet. By The Ohio Art Company for ages 8 and up, $29.99. Available Spring 2003.
Waterball from Wild Planet Toys: A handheld water soaker produces balls of water -- like liquid marbles -- that are nearly an inch in diameter and fly up to 20 feet. The Waterball launcher projects 175 balls per fill and 40 balls per minute. For ages 5 up to adult. Available nationwide in Spring 2003, for $14.99. For more information about Waterball, visit www.waterball.net
Astrojax: It is a three-ball juggling set that defines the trick play of yo-yo and the group play of hackisack. Available March 2003 at stores nationwide ranging in price from $7.99-$9.99. For more information, visit www.astrojax.com
Accuthrow: A new innovative toy, similar in simplicity to the Hula Hoop and the yo-yo. Includes a 2 1/2 ft. long plastic tube and a high performance rubber ball. The objective is to keep the ball continuously moving in a circular motion through the openings of the hose. Excellent for hand and eye coordination. The idea came to inventor Michael Hicks when playing with some aluminum hose left on his golf bag. For ages 7 and up. Available at specialty stores for $12.99, and also online at www.accuthrow.com.
Poweriser: Jumping stilts are the latest equipment for recreation, exercise, or extreme sports. They give the user the ability to jump up to 6 feet in the air and have running strides of up to 9 feet. Amazing flips and other stunts are recommended only for professionals. Adult pairs cost $395, and kids' cost $265. For more information, visit www.superdairyboy.com